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The Sun Newspaper Wednesday, September 30, 1942

 

 

This article is titled: Amazing Story Of Survival

 

Drops from sky to fight death in New Guinea wilds.  Diary tells an Amazing story of survival.

 

Dropping from the skies into trackless New Guinea jungle, Vern Haugland, Associated Press of America's war correspondent, survived an amazing six weeks. A dramatic day-by-day story of his hazardous adventures, which he began without food and no experience of the wild country, is told in his diary.

 

It covers the period from August 7, when he bailed out of a bomber which had run out of fuel, until 10 days before he was found delirious by missionaries in a native village.

 

The plane had passed through a heavy storm while on the way from Australia to New Guinea. Lieutenant A. D. Michael, the co-pilot of the bomber, bailed out just after Haugland.

 

They met during their wanderings in the Jungle, but became separated, and Michael is still listed as missing. The diary, as Haugland wrote it, follows: —

 

August 7: Bailed out about 6.30. Night in chute in rain, uninjured.

 

August 8: Heard plane at seven. Filled preserver with water.

 

August 9 : Hiking.

 

August 10: Mike and I hiked all day.

 

August 11: Co-pilot Michael and I may get separated. I have life preserver, he hasn't. If you find me and not him send help quickly as he is starving. With food he can make it. Mike is on river.

 

August 12: Through God's grace, Mike and I still together. Forded river near fork. Spent last night in chute on hillside. Rain starting at four.

 

August 13: Still no food. No sign of people over mountain, down river. Drenched heavy rain. Spent night in small cave.

 

August 14: Not much progress.  Most horrible rainy night yet.

 

August 15: Over more mountains. Heard plane but too much cloud.

 

August 16: Very weak. Feet bad; must take to river. We may get separated or drowned, but pray to God for safety. (Entry in different hand-writing, presumably Michael's.) In case we are separated I'll be up the river. In bad need of food. Please rush to rescue. Mike went up over the hill and I started down the river. Saw I couldn't make it. Came back to dry clothes.  Will try and follow him tomorrow. Maybe Mike can go faster alone. Hope so. He's a wonderful boy and deserves to live.

 

August 17: Can see now. Must take to river. Dear God help me to make it. Plane came over early, but too far away. Didn't see me. Very weak. Evening: Got into river, couldn't make it.  Awful climb up mountain. There I saw it straight down; absolutely no hope. Terrible mountains ahead. River also impassable. View on top convinced me only miracle of God can help now. All I can do is lie and wait for miracle or death. Made it back to camp, about ready to go to sleep.

 

August 18: Hope Michael Is OK. He should be six or eight miles ahead of me down river. The amazing thing is how clear headed we have remained.

 

August 19: Second day lying on rocks chewing grass and weeds, praying a great deal. Getting so weak, hardly any hope. Lost life preserver. Watched vainly all day for plane. Only hope' is plane dropping food or ground aid arriving.  Both extremely - unlikely. Looks like I shall die here soon.

 

Nothing to eat for two and a half weeks.

 

August 20: Worst rain night since Mike and I spent two terrible ones. Just lay in mud, soaked and stinking. Somehow stronger today. Foot healing, too.

 

August 21: Last night rainiest of all. Life vest washed away.

 

August 22: Worst rain night. Didn't think I could stand that torture.

 

August 24: Had warm dry night. Two and a half weeks with nothing to eat. My body looks terrible. If someone comes today I can still live, but I need food.  Head clear, disposition good.

 

August 25: Worst night of all. River flooded me out. Had to climb into rocks and sit shivering, yet somehow today, almost sleepless, I have more strength to walk around than for several days.  All search for me, if any, must have given up.  So my plight is about hopeless.

 

August 26: Awful night. Woke a bit delirious for first time.

 

August 28: This may be wrong date. Either last night was very long and full of bad dreams, or I have been semi-delirious. I think it was only one night, be cause my clothes are only damp. If I can summon strength, may hike through woods in hope of finding shelter. Found delicious bramble- berries on shore.

 

August 29: Got back to big log Mike and I slept under August 15; kept me quite dry in spite of heavy rain. Later climbed all day. Looks impossible get clear.

 

August 30: Now at mountain top. Most vivid terrible- scene ever witnessed. Such peaks. Only thing to do is keep away from river and deep canyons.

 

August 31: Last night wettest of all. Very cold under slight cover of palm. Very hungry, but today found two pocketsful of fruit looking and tasting like sour plums. Helped a lot, but too sour to eat many at once.

 

September 1: Crossed another creek last night, found good palm cover from heavy rain. Now climbing mountain. Saw emu and wallaby. Reached top for first time. See great valley not too far away, and not impossible to reach. Dear God, help me keep my strength. This may be into settled area. Reached bottom before rain started.

 

September 2: Now going down into valley.  River makes incredible cut further over, but may avoid it.

 

September 3: Reached river bottom below extreme peaks, bathed, washed out bandages, dried feet. One toe very badly swollen. Example of how Lord shepherded me: Led me to rock crevice right by river, where avoided heavy storm, then brought out sun. Made good bed, but lost in dark. Sat up.

 

September 4: After tough day, worst, wettest, coldest night, hands so numb can't write. Terrible struggle through jungle. Sundown: Climbed, most -wonderful views yet. Sharp air battle. (There is no explanation of this entry.)

 

Prayers Were Answered

 

September 5: Best night on hill in tall grass, tough up-and-down day. But turning most times South and West, after all these days; of North and West, even East. Heavy rain, but stayed dry in hollow tree. First time in New Guinea heard plane.

 

September 6: Reached rivers in valley. Now surrounded by rivers I can't go forward. Only chance now native come. Almost nothing edible several days Very weak. Later: Answer to prayers, dozens and dozens of bramble berries. Slept under great log. Perfectly dry; mosquitoes not bad.

 

September 7: Forded river, berries galore other side, where no mosquitoes. Little native twig shelter. Unable ford another river. Spent most day eating and resting. Slept under; twig shelter. No mosquitoes, few flies, big relief. Was nice day, beautiful night, gorgeous sun set.

 

September 8: Many good berries still. Crossed big river on log,  got almost across another on log.  Wandered hour or two, lost, back to river. Found three native huts, one with floor, also table, cages, surrounded by stinging weeds by creek with fish. Sick in night first time, probably from stinger on hand and mouth. Large leaves look like milk weed, probably planted keep animals from huts. Heavy rain, but floor and roof kept quite dry.

 

September 9: Spent rainy morning in hut drying shoes. Where from here? Impossible  stick close to river because impassable tall reeds. Will stay close as can; otherwise get lost. Can't see where going.  Thank God, keeping near reeds. Got on to faint animal track. Crossed stream on log at berry place. Trail grew plainer, definitely track through forest. Made more distance so far than for weeks and sun still high.  All creeks logged over. No vines, all cleared. There the diary ends. From that time Haugland was delirious and remained so until his period of Iuoidity in Fort Moresby Hospital on September 28th.